Vegan Claims in ads

By Lydia Palmese, Copy Group Executive

Updated 15th June 2018

We’re starting to see ‘vegan’ claims appearing in ads and it can be an area that seems abstruse and hard to define universally. For many, ‘vegan’ means the product doesn’t contain any animal products. Simple, right? Well, not when you start to think about it, which is exactly what we’re doing. For example, a cosmetic product might contain insect shells to produce certain colours, but a clearance exec or specialist consultant might not expect insects to come under the heading of ‘animal products’, so wouldn’t flag this up. Similarly, we might be on the lookout for this, but won’t know the technical name when we see it.

This whole issue falls under BCAP’s 3.1: Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. To help make this easier and to adopt a fair and consistent approach to these claims, we have decided to write up a straight-forward definition of ‘vegan’. We’ve done this through a combination of research into vegan definitions, consultations, advice from CAP as well as lots (and lots) of internal meetings and reviews.

It’s clear that ‘vegan’ can be a lengthy list of do’s and don’ts, so to make sure things don’t get overlooked and help prevent misleading consumers, this is the definition we’re working to:

A. ‘animal’ is understood to reference and encompass the whole, non-human, animal kingdom, including vertebrates and multicellular invertebrates.

B. This product and its ingredients have not been cross contaminated with animal ingredients. Foods have been prepared separately to non-vegan foods.

C. The manufacture and/or development of this product and its ingredients has not involved the use of animal products, by products, or derivatives.

D. The manufacture and/or development of this product and its ingredients has not involved testing on animals in any form by the manufacturing company, on the company’s behalf, by other parties controlled by the company, or outside suppliers not controlled by the company.

E. That any genetically modified organisms have not involved animal genes or animal-derived substances.

To help put this in context, let’s say you have a moisturiser which is claiming both ‘vegan’ and ‘no animal by-products’. You’ve consulted the substantiation (this will probably include, but not be limited to: certificate of analysis, full ingredients, production methods supplied by either the advertiser or the manufacturer) and see that this product has been, or contains ingredients that have been, tested on animals. So, according to this understood definition, the moisturiser cannot claim to be ‘vegan’, but can claim ‘no by-products’. Depending on the claim and product, a clarification super may be required, but we’re on hand to help determine how and when to apply this.

We’ll now be asking agencies and advertisers making the ‘vegan’ claim to complete a confirmation letter. In some cases, we may ask an independent, specialist, consultant to review the evidence against this checklist. Like any assessment from a consultant, this process may require additional time and substantiation.

You will be able to review this information in our Notes of Guidance (under “3.9 Substantiation” within “3. Misleading”).

If time is a factor in getting your ad to air, or you’re just unsure how to go about checking the manufacture of the product, you may wish to consult our Copy Development service, which is here to help you build the copy around the evidence you already hold.  As always, your exec. will be on hand to offer advice as to whether this service could work for you.

6th February 2018